She's not "demented?" - AgingCare.com

She's not "demented?"

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My mom is in her late 60s and a few years ago started to show a significant change in memory function. She was having issues with short term stuff. She is and always was extremely independent and blunt (undiagnosed, and yes I understand I am not a psychologist, so take it with a grain of salt please borderline personality disorder)


She was fired from her job, went on unemployment, then disability and finally retirement. Memory wise she just seemed to decline.


Currently she constantly talks about old stories from when she was working or growing up. I'm not trying to exxagerate but if she's watching tv or seems something when I'm driving she's got some story about how X happened to a coworker or Y happened to her sister.


She has practically no short term memory and constantly asks the same question over and over. For example if she doesn't see my younger brother she asks if he's at work (he has two jobs) and then later on she'll ask again.


The last doctor appointment she went to, my father was supposed to go in the room with her. The nurse said oh we're just taking vitals. Mom didn't know what to do and came out with no idea of what they did. Dad ended up checking the paperwork and finding out she was given 2 vaccines and told to get lab work done.


In Nov 2017 I got a referall to a neurologist for Mom. He told her to keep taking Aricept (minimum dose) but didn't give me a diagnosis or any suggestions.


They have since switched back to Kaiser and I was able to have her refered back to Neuro. The visit did not go well and is why I'm lost.


Doc was extremely blunt, asked me what I "thought" the issue was with her. Wouldn't let me speak with him without Mom present (that was extremely nice, trying to explain how her mind has deteriorated over the last couple years while she's sitting there listening and starting to cry)


He did a few tests, and that standard mini mental test where she had a breakdown and started to cry because of how his was pressuring her. If he had let me speak to him he would have been able to understand she has an undiagnosed learning disability (bad childhood abuse and neglect) and she does have some underlying angry and emotional issues.


His diagnosis is that we're completely wrong, she doesn't have dementia or anything but depression and anxiety and needs intensive counseling.


I and my dad are baffled. We live and love her. We know this isn't forgetfulness and resentment because we don't let her drive. He told us to feel free to stop the Aricept and that her PCP will give a referral to pysch. Right now my plan is to stop the Aricept as told and try the therapy with her. But does this make sense? Should I try to get a second opinion?


Is all this just because Dad and I started trying to pick up the pieces after she lost her job? Dad does all the cooking and I do all the driving.


I love my Mom so much. The changes I've seen are killing me. She used to be the closest thing to a best friend I had. I don't have much of a support system outside of Dad, so any advice or suggestions on resources would be helpful.


San Gabriel Valley, LA County, California


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Thank you guys so much for the reassurances and stories. Dad's terrible with technology, so please be assured you guys were a wonderful and helpful group and he is very appreciative.

It is so hard to deal with stuff like this when you feel like your emotions are getting the better of you.

I'm in the process of requesting another referral and specifying the type of doctor as well as the reasons why we had issues.

I've been trying to keep Mom in the loop with things as well. I guess I should be glad in a way that she doesn't even remember anything that happened with the doctor, just that she went there the other day. But in a small way it makes me even more irritated. That doctor isn't going to remember my mom crying in frustration, nor is he going to ever understand the pain of having to tell her no, that doctor likely isn't correct and there is a big issue with your memory, so we can't let you take the car and drive to the store whenever you feel like it.

Once again thank you guys for taking the time to help me out. I can't begin to thank you enough.
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Reply to TracyTrace
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You know what they call the person who graduates last in their medical school class??

Doctor.

I'd get a psych eval and a new PCP. We need to remember that our doctors work FOR US. We get so caught up in that "white coat syndrome" we just hang on every word the good doc says. And get this: a LOT of the time they're wrong.

I have 2 kids who are Drs. My SIL is the goofiest guy you'd ever meet. Seriously. Just funny and carefree. Sometimes I think he's just the biggest goofball I ever met--then he puts on his "doctor clothes" and this incredibly brilliant person emerges. Seriously, some day he will be the top of his field, probably cure cancer or something, and yesterday he was grocery shopping with me and throwing stuff into the cart over my head and yelling "Three pointer!!". Honestly, it was like taking a toddler shopping.

IF he acted like that at WORK, he'd be sunk. Sadly, there's a lot of really terrible doctors out there. I've fired more than one from my care. There's almost amazing, compassionate and knowledgeable ones who are stellar physicians.

You'd send back a bad steak--send this dr you don't like "back" and find one with some compassion. Your poor mom--"failing" a dementia test and being made to feel stupid in the mix.
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Reply to Midkid58
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I'm so sorry you are going through this, and that the neurologist was rude. I would go to the psych appointment, but also would get a second opinion from another neurologist, and see if the second neurologist could get her in for an MRI to check for any kind of brain abnormalities as well. And please do come back and let us know how everything goes.
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Reply to FrazzledMama
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my mom has Kaiser too. her PCP never(?) approached subject of my moms memory. then one day she finally asked if we wanted a geriatric referral - I said ~yes~

the 1st appointment was the best appointment ever. no... not going to fix my mom. but the support I received was A+

and I have someone who calls me about each month to check in on moms condition. and I can call if anything weird starts happening.(caseworker)

edit. idk why but I hate that word demented. dementia word doesn't bother me but the other word sounds so ugly. :(
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Reply to wally003
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I'm so sorry your Mom has had to go through this.

I think a second opinion is a good thing to get. Start taking notes about what you notice about your Mom's forgetfulness. Then write up a summary, using these examples and include the info about her background. Give this to the doctor to read BEFORE he examines your Mom.

Ideally she will get a full neuro-cognitive work-up, which is hours long. It can be stressful for the patient, but it gives them a much better idea of whether it is dementia and what kind of dementia. In my Mom's case it turns out she has one of the few types that is often treatable (although it turned out she wasn't a candidate for the treatment). If she hadn't had the full work-up, they wouldn't have found out.

Good luck!
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Reply to chdottir
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If the referral to the psych doc was for a geriatric psychiatrist, that's great! I suspect that's who will be able to tease out what is depression and what is cognitive loss. Let us know how this goes!
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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TracyTrace, as Ahmijoy just said, getting another doctor's diagnosis would be good, preferably one specializing in geriatrics and/or dementia. Finding the best one and that isn't a jerk can sometimes be hard to do. Attending an Alzheimer's Support Group would give you opportunity to ask other attendees about their experiences with doctors and would also enlarge your support system. You should be able to find nearby support groups and other valuable information at https://www.alz.org/

Also, If you or your dad don't already have a durable power of attorney (DPOA) for health care and for finances, you should probably get that done immediately (i.e. before your mom gets diagnosed with dementia). AginCare's website explains POAs at https://www.agingcare.com/articles/difference-between-POA-durable-power-of-attorney-living-will-140435.htm ; and at  https://www.agingcare.com/articles/legal-documents-to-make-healthcare-decisions-for-your-parent-146623.htm
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Reply to bicycler
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Tracy, get another neurologist and another set of tests for her. However, I don’t have dementia and I know I am always telling my kids and grandkids stories of past times. And I do forget things. The stories remind us of better, happier times when we were younger. I also get very emotional. I would never cry, and now it doesn’t take much to set me off. I’m entirely aware that, in my case, it’s extreme stress and age related, but not dementia.

Can Dad and Mom cook together? It will take patience on Dad’s part, but it will help Mom feel worthwhile. I wouldn’t let her drive, though. Call yourself her “Uber”.

Start back at Square One with a new doctor. You learned nothing from the other one except that he’s a jerk with no bedside manner. Tell Mom why you’re going to a new doctor—because the other one did her no good and was a dirtbag about it.

Come back often. Keep us updated.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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